Goal Setting for Teachers [23 Ideas to Try Today]

Educators of all experience levels have aspirations and practice goal-setting in their careers. Sometimes this is required following an evaluation, and sometimes these are personally set, but regardless of motivation, there is a right way to set teacher goals and a wrong way.

For professional goals, teachers should always use the SMART method. SMART goals meet the following criteria:

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable
  • A: Achievable
  • R: Relevant
  • T: Time-bound

With SMART goals as your guide, you’re ready to start setting short, medium, and long-term teaching goals. Not sure where to begin? Here are some important areas to address, accompanied by a comprehensive list of professional goals to consider in your career.

Goal Setting Guide for Teachers — Areas to Address

Classroom Teaching and Management Goals

  1. Learn new teaching strategies: Set a goal to study and implement new teaching strategies in your classroom. These new strategies could be around a particular subject or about utilizing technology more, but the good news is that there are many online teaching strategy courses available. 
  2. Improve classroom management skills: Whether you have student behavioral issues you need to contain or are just looking to brush up on these skills, classroom management is a critical skill all teachers should prioritize. To put this goal into action, you should consider taking an online classroom management course
  3. Improve differentiated instruction ability: Students all learn differently, and to effectively communicate as a teacher you will need to differentiate your instruction. There are many online resources from other teachers and differentiated instruction guides available to help you reach your goals.

Real-life Example: “I will enroll in the Classroom Management Course through USD’s Professional and Continuing Education by (insert date).”

Student Development Goals

  1. Foster a love of reading amongst students: Many elementary level teachers are highly focused on literacy amongst their students. And while this is a required skill, reading can and should also be fun. Set a goal of fostering a love of reading for your students — which can become a lifelong pursuit and beneficial in continuing education.
  2. Improve students’ academic performance: This goal can be for a quarter, semester, or even an entire academic year. If you notice a student struggling, take it upon yourself to make it a goal to improve their study habits, classroom performance, grades, and ultimately their knowledge.
  3. Develop students’ character: Being a teacher is about so much more than meeting specific academic standards or passing a test. School is where students form their character and learn how to live and behave in society. If you aspire to mold students who demonstrate good character, then select specific strategies that will help meet those goals.
  4. Develop well-rounded students: Beyond quality of character, teachers are also helping to develop physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally well-rounded people. Goal-setting around these qualities might mean you plan to include one character-building lesson per week, or might watch one webinar on student development per quarter.
  5. Encourage more play/physical activity: This can be difficult for middle and high school teachers, but active students are happy students. Make it a priority to encourage more physical activity or find a way to incorporate it into learning.

Real-Life Example: “I will bring the benefits of fitness (through movement or sharing personally) into the classroom for at least 10 minutes per class period by (insert date).”

Mindfulness Goals

  1. Learn about mindfulness: Mindfulness has been shown to enhance classroom productivity, decrease stress, and cultivate a caring and peaceful classroom. Teachers should aspire to set mindfulness-centric goals in their teaching and personal lives. The good news is that there are many online mindfulness courses available specifically for educators. 
  2. Introduce mindfulness to students: Once teachers have learned about mindfulness themselves, they should plan to implement some of these practices into their classroom. Set mindfulness goals, either around subject matter or daily rituals, to create a calmer, more introspective environment.

Real-life Example: “I will incorporate at least one element of mindfulness to each of my class periods by (insert date). I will keep this as a priority for all classes in each coming academic year.”

Overall School Environment Goals

  1. Help spearhead the creation of classroom and school-wide resolutions: Teaching goals can also apply to the entire school. Set SMART school improvement goals and resolutions around any number of areas that matter to you or your students.
  2. Collaborate more: To foster a positive community atmosphere, aspire to improve collaboration across classes and grade-levels. Consider grade-wide projects or school-wide reading lists.
  3. Help others set goals: It can and should be a personal goal to assist the school community, such as administrators, other teachers, students and support staff, to reach their academic and behavioral benchmarks and goals. Give them this goal setting guide as a starting-off point.
  4. Cultivate relationships with colleagues: Whether you’re a veteran teacher or in your first year, set a goal to get to know your colleagues. You can learn from their experiences and share your own expertise in an effort to build a connected school community. 

Real-life Example: “Have lunch at least once per week with a teacher outside my own department by (insert date).”

Organizational Goals

  1. Organize your time: Create a set schedule for things to help prioritize work and make your day more organized from start to finish.
  2. Organize your classroom: A cluttered space is hard to teach and learn in. Organize your own desk and space to demonstrate the value of organization to students.
  3. Organize your resources: With organized learning materials and teaching materials, you and your students will be able to utilize them more easily.

Real-life Example: ”I will have invested at least four hours in a deep clean and declutter of my classroom by (insert date). I will toss or donate as much as possible to create physical and mental space.”

Tech Training Goals

  1. Earn your Google certification: Google’s many classroom and teaching tools are a great asset for teachers of all grade levels. Aim to learn, if not master, some of Google’s education applications. 
  2. Teach students how to be digital citizens: Technology skills are necessary for today’s students. And while they learn many of these skills in technology-specific classes, gen-ed teachers should also aspire to incorporate technology standards into their lessons. This will help students be more prepared to navigate in an increasingly-digital world.

Real-life Example: “I honor my overall school environment goal to collaborate beyond my own department by asking for support from someone who is excelling at the use of technology in their classroom. I will have my own classroom website by the end of the 2021 Academic Year.”

Continuing Education/Professional Development Goals

  1. Explore professional development options: Professional development should be a goal for all teachers. Many districts and states even require it for certification or licensure. A consistent goal for teachers should be to identify professional development opportunities — in the form of courses, certificates, or even conferences — and select at least one to complete.
  2. Finish or begin a master’s degree: While this is certainly a more long-term endeavor, a master’s degree is a commendable teaching goal. Be sure to do thorough research on your options and select a degree program that is best for you and your career goals.

Real-life Example: “I will enroll in at least one continuing education course by (insert date).”

Parent and Community Goals

  1. Involve parents in their children’s education: Keeping parents involved in their children’s education has many benefits. Parental support can help you achieve certain teaching goals and can help kids improve their learning outcomes and overall classroom performance.
  2. Involve parents in school activities: More is better when it comes to parent involvement in extracurricular activities. Seek out parental support and involvement in things such as a Fall carnival, fundraising efforts, or field trips, and set goals around participation levels.

Real-life Example: “I will add a dedicated ‘parents’ tab to my classroom website and load it with practical resources that connect parents to the academic and social work of their students’ classroom by the start of the academic year.”

Many of these goals require learning a new concept or strategy, but knowing where to find that information can be difficult. Consider exploring the many online educator courses offered by the University of San Diego. Our online educator courses cover a wide variety of subjects, so regardless of your interest area, you can certainly find the class for you.


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